The 2018 World Cup is one of the first major international tournaments to generate excitement amongst England fans since the 1990s. Not since Sir Bobby Robson's side have England made it to the semi final of the World Cup, and fans took to social media to express their delight at the national side's success.
'Three Lions' once again became the anthem for fans, who sang it at games, weddings and across all social media platforms. However, this year 'Three Lions' became more than a song and transitioned into a meme. Different clips across Twitter emerged with the audio of 'Three Lions' dubbed over the top.
From Russian president Vladimir Putin playing the anthem on the piano to Ross, Joey and Chandler dancing to the number one hit in their living room. These viral clips have generated a new excitement around the country which has led to a new interest in international football.
Players even joined in with the fun on social media. Jesse Lingard was one of a number of players to poke fun at the idea of football coming home, with Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker also making light of several pictures released in the media.
No mum, I’m not coming home. It’s... pic.twitter.com/VdFHVoEfTI— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) July 3, 2018
The international break has previously been met with disdain by most Premier League and football fans. The excitement of club football had been deemed superior to the inevitable disappointment of international football, until the 2018 World Cup.
This World Cup has captivated the nation as England reached the semi final of the tournament for only the third time in their history. This unforeseen success of a novice national team excited the country, with many taking to social media to express their unbridled joy.
The reaction on social media elevated the players. Viral clips of fans celebrating goals and launching of pints into the air undoubtedly boosted spirits in the squad. As well as fans praising the players, Gareth Southgate was also honoured with 'Waistcoat Wednesday,' where fans took to Twitter to show their admiration of the manager's now iconic style.
“Can you ask the neighbours to put the bins out on Monday? We’re not going home just yet” 🏴 pic.twitter.com/s1g3P3jj34— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) July 8, 2018
The praise Southgate received this tournament is a stark contrast to the way previous managers have been treated by the press. Graham Taylor, Glenn Hoddle and Sven-Goran Eriksson all faced abuse from the press during their tenure, often in the build up to major tournaments.
The negative press coverage prior to the World Cup and Euros regularly destabilised England and caused fans to lose faith in their team. This World Cup, however, proved to be different as the fans took control of the narrative and created a positive environment for the players and staff.
Although social media has had a positive impact on the squad at this tournament, it remains to be seen if it will continue. Social media can be temperamental and if results were to turn against Southgate and his men, it is unlikely that fans would maintain their support. Twitter during half time in most Premier League matches illustrates just how unforgiving social media can be.
However, as this World Cup has shown, if performances are good, fans will respond wholeheartedly with their support in the stadium and on social media.